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Women’s experiences of commercial three-dimensional ultrasound scans

Glover, Lesley; Jomeen, Julie; Wadephul, Franziska


Lesley Glover

Julie Jomeen

Franziska Wadephul


Ultrasound has become a routine part of UK maternity care and has a range of diagnostic and screening purposes. The last two decades have seen the development of three-dimensional (3D) scans, which use computer software to produce a seemingly 3D image of the foetus (Rankin et al 1993). Four-dimensional (4D) scans include the dimension of time, i.e. moving images of the foetus. This technology does currently have limited diagnostic use (Campbell 2002, Kurjak et al 2007) though it can be helpful in screening for facial anomalies. Over the last two decades 3D and 4D scans have become available to expectant parents (Roberts 2012) through commercial screening companies. They are generally marketed as ‘bonding scans’ or ‘reassurance scans’ (Wadephul 2013), in line with claims that the more ‘baby-like’ images enhance the parental relationship with the foetus and provide reassurance to expectant parents (Campbell 2002). This is not supported by research into the psychological impact of 3D and 4D scans, which suggests that while these scans may enhance parental recognition of the foetus , they do not increase ‘bonding’ or reassurance compared to conventional two-dimensional (2D) scans (Righetti et al 2005, Rustico et al 2005, Leung et al 2006, Sedgmen et al 2006, Lapaire et al 2007, de Jong-Pleij et al 2013). These studies offered 3D/4D scans as part of their research, rather than exploring women’s experiences of scans they had actively sought out and paid for. The case studies presented in this paper are part of a larger PhD study exploring discourses of 3D/4D scans and women’s experiences of having these scans (Wadephul 2013). The case studies aim to explore why individual women choose commercial 3D/4D scans, what their expectations and experiences are and how the scans affect their psychological experience and their maternal-foetal relationship.


Glover, L., Jomeen, J., & Wadephul, F. (2015). Women’s experiences of commercial three-dimensional ultrasound scans. MIDIRS midwifery digest, 25(4), 433-438

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 5, 2015
Publication Date 2015
Deposit Date Dec 8, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal MIDIRS midwifery digest
Print ISSN 0961-5555
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 4
Pages 433-438
Keywords Ultrasound scans, Pregnancy
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Author's accepted manuscript of article published in: MIDIRS midwifery digest, 2015, v.25, issue 4


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